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Arvi. Now on my soul this youth doth move me much.
Druid. Think not religion and our holy office
Doth teach us tamely, like the bleating lamb,
To crouch before oppression, and with neck
Outstretched await the stroke. Mistaken boy!
Did not strict justice claim thee for her victim,
We might full-safely send thee to these Romans,
Inviting their hot charge. Know, when J blow
That sacred trumpet, bound with sable fillets
To yonder branching oak, the awful sound
Calls forth a thousand Britons, trained alike
In holy and in martial exercise ;
Not by such mode and rule, as Romans use,
But of that fierce, portentous, horrible sort,
As shall appall even Romans.
Gracious gods !
Then there are hopes indeed. Oh, call them instant!
This prince will lead them on: I'll follow him,
Though in my chains, and some way dash them round
To harm the haughty foe.
Arvi. A thousand Britons,
And armed! Oh instant blow the sacred trump,
And let me head them. Yet methinks this youth-
Druid. I know what thou wouldst say, might join thee,
True, were he free from crime, or had confessed.
Elid. Confessed. Ah, think not, I will e'er
Either thyself or brother must have wronged us :
Then why conceal-
Elid. Hast thou a brother ? no!:
Else hadst thou spared the word.
Hear me, Druid ::
Though I would prize an hour of freedom.now
Before an age of any after date :
Though I would seize it as the gift of heaven,
And use it as heaven's gift: yet do not think,
I so will purchase it. Give it me freely,
I yet will spurn the boon, and hug my chains,
you do swear by your own hoary head, My brother shall be safe:
Druid. Excellent youth!
Thy words do speak thy soul, and such a soul,
As wakes our wonder. Thou art free; thy brother
Shall be thine honor's pledge! so will we use him,
As thou art false or true.
Elid. I ask no other.
Arvi. Thus then, my fellow-soldier, to thy clasp
I give the hand of friendship. Noble youth
We'll speed, or die together.
Raimond. When shall I breathe in freedom, and give scope To those untamable and burning thoughts, And restless aspirations which consume My heart in the land of bondage ?-Oh! with you, Ye everlasting images of power, And of infinity! thou blue-rolling deep, And you, ye stars! whose beams are characters Wherewith the oracles of fate are traced ; With you my soul finds room, and casts aside The weight that doth oppress her.—But my thoughts Are wandering far; there should be one to share This awful and majestic solitude. (Procida enters unobserved.)
Procida. He is here.
Rai. Now, thou mysterious stranger, thou whose glance
Doth fix itself on memory, and pursue
Thought, like a spirit, haunting its lone hours ;
Reveal thyself; what art thou ?
Proc. One, whose life
Hath been a troubled stream, and made its way
Tkrough rocks and darkness, and a thousand storms,
With still a mighty aim.—But now the shades
Of eve are gathering round me, and I come
To this, my native land, that I may rest
Beneath its vines in peace.
Rai. Seekest thou for peace ?
There is no land of peace; unless that deep
And voiceless terror, which doth freeze men's thoughts
Back to their source, and mantle its pale mien
With a dull hollow semblance of repose,
May so be called. He were bold
Who now should wear his thoughts upon his brow
Beneath Sicilian skies. And this it is
To wear a foreign yoke.
Proc. It matters not
To him who holds the mastery o'er his spirit,
And can suppress its workings, till endurance
Becomes as nature. We can tame ourselves
To all extremes, and there is that in life
To which we cling with most tenacious grasp,
Even when its lofty claims are all reduced
To the poor common privilege of breathing.-
Rai. I deemed thee, by the ascendant soul which lived,
And made its throne on thy commanding brow,
One of a sovereign nature, which would scorn
So to abase its high capacities
For aught on earth.—But thou art like the rest.
What wouldst thou with me?
Proc. I would counsel thee.
Thou must do that which men—aye valiant men—
Hourly submit to do.
Where is he, whose heart
Lies bare, through all its foldings, to the gaze-
Of mortal eye ?-If vengeance wait the foe,
Or fate the oppressor, 'tis in depths concealed
Beneath a smiling surface.—Youth! I say
Keep thy soul down !--Put on a mask 'tis wom
Alike by power and weakness.
Rai. Away, dissembler!
Life hath its high and its ignoble tasks,
Fitted to every nature. Will the free
And royal eagle stoop to learn the arts
By which the serpent wins his spell-bound prey.?!
It is because I will not clothe myself
In a vile garb of coward' semblances,
e'en now, I struggle with my heart;
To bid what most I love a long farewell,
And seek my country on some distant shore,
Where such things are unknown!
Proc. (Exultingly.) Why, this is joy!
After long conflict with the doubts and fears,
subtleties of meaner minds,
To meet a spirit, whose bold elastic wing
Oppression hath not crushed.—High-hearted youth..
Thy father, should his footsteps e'er again.
Visit these shores-
Rai. My father! what of him?
Speak! was he known to thee?
Proo. In distant lands
With him I've traversed many a wild, and looked
On many a danger; and the thought that thou
Wert smiling then in peace, a happy boy,
Oft through the storm hath cheered him.
Rai. Dost thou deem
That still he lives ?-Oh! if it be in chains,
In woe, in poverty's obscurest cell,
Say but he lives—and I will track his steps
E'en to the earth’s verge!
be that he lives :
Though long his name hath ceased to be a word
Familiar in man's dwellings. But its sound
May yet be heard !-Raimond di Procida,
Rememberest thou thy father ?
Raimond! doth no voice
Speak to thy soul, and tell thee whose the arms
That would infold thee now ?–My son! my son !
Rai. Father -Oh God my father!
(Hakon enters leading his son Erling by the hand.) Erling. 'Tis cold, my father! Hakon. 'Tis yet early morning. Art thou so very chill?
Erl. Nay, 'tis no matter.-
I shall behold the rising sun-how grand !
A sight that I have never known before.
Hak. Seest thou yon ruddy streaks along the east?
Erl. What roses ! how they bloom and spread on high!
Yet father, tell me whence come all these pearls,
Wherewith the valley here is richly strewn?
How brightly they reflect the rosy light !
Hak. They are not pearls, it is the morning dew!
And that which thou deemest roses, is the sun!
Seest thou ? he rises now. Look at him, boy!
Erl. Oh! what a beauteous whirling globe he seems :
How fiery red! Dear father, can we never
Visit the sun in yonder distant land ?
Hak. My child, our whole life thitherward is tending; That flaming ball of light is Odin's eye
His other is the moon, of milder light,
That he just now has left in Mimer's well,
There by the charmful waves to be refreshed.
Erl. And where is Mimer's well ?
Hak. The sacred ocean-
That is old Mimer's deep and potent well.
That strengthens Odin's eyes. From the cool waves,
At morning duly comes the sun refreshed,
The moon again by night.
Erl. But now it hurts me-
It mounts too high.
Hak. Upon his golden throne,
The almighty father mounts, soon to survey
The whole wide earth. The central diamond
In his meridian crown, our earthly sight
May not contemplate. What man darest to meet
The unveiled aspect of the king of day?
Erl. (Terrified.) Hu! hu! my father-in the forest yonder-
What are those bearded, frightful men?
They are the statues of the gods, by men
Thus hewn in marble. They blind not with sun-gleams.
Before them we can pray with confidence,
And look upon them with untroubled firmness.
Come child—let us go nearer!
Erl. No, my father!
I am afraid-seest thou that old man there!
Him with the beard ? I am afraid of him!
Hak. Child, it is Odin—wouldst thou fly from Odin ?
Erl. No-no—I fear not the great king in heaven-
He is so good and beautiful, and calls
The flowers from earth's bosom, and himself shines
Like a flower on high ;—but that pale sorcerer-
He grins like an assassin!
At least let me bring my crown of flowers.
I left it there on the hedge, when first
Thou broughtest me hither to see the sun rise.
Then let us go home;
Believe me that old man there means no good!
Hak. Go bring thy wreath, and quickly come again,
A lamb for sacrifice is ever crowned. (Exit Erling.)
Immortal powers !
Behold the faith of Hakon in this deed.